These 7 Long-Weekend European Getaways Are Completely Doable from the U.S.
Europe for a long weekend? It’s possible—even enjoyable, if you’re willing hit the ground running after a red-eye flight. We found seven hot spots that can be squeezed into just a few days.
The Azores, Portugal
Despite being one of the closest European hubs to the U.S. (the flight clocks in at just five hours and 45 minutes), the Azores still flies off the tourist radar—but not for long. This lush volcanic archipelago, 900 miles west of Lisbon, is steadily cropping up on itineraries as people continue to seek out “the next Iceland.” Limited flights and its remote locale just add to its mystique. After landing in San Miguel, hit buzzy port town Ponta Delgada for its black-sand beaches, hot springs at Caldeira Velha, and gorgeous gardens like Terra Nostra (beloved for its 600 varieties of the camellia flower), where you can conveniently rest your feet (and head) at Terra Nostra Garden Hotel nearby.
A six-hour flight from the U.S. gets you to Reykjavík, Iceland’s colorful capital city. After getting a refresher in Viking history at the National and Saga museums, climb the iconic white clocktower at Hallgrímskirkja for a sweeping view of the city and the sea. When hunger strikes, dig into Nordic specialties like Arctic char and beetroot at places like Dill (which earned itself a Michelin star in 2017) and Fiskfelagid (its sea-centric menu includes Icelandic salted cod and monkfish). Afterwards, bed down in the ION City Hotel downtown from Icelandic architectural studio Minarc (behind the brutalist ION Adventure Hotel).
There’s lots to love about Dublin—and we’re not just talking about the easy six-and-a-half-hour flight from the States. Ireland’s gritty capital has become seriously hip over the years, adding buzzy new cocktail bars and award-winning restaurants to its must-hit list once dominated by storied pubs and cobbled lanes. After ticking off the Trinity College Library and the Guinness Storehouse (you gotta do ‘em), make time for another tipple—this time of the craft cocktail variety—at Bow Lane. (For something more traditional, The Brazen Head has been open since 1198.) Then soak up the booze with bites at Mish.Mash, a ‘gram-worthy café known for its hearty lunches. The hotel du jour is The Dean, complete with a rooftop bar and restaurant and industrial-chic guest rooms—reclaimed wood, personal turntables—straight out of Brooklyn.
We made sure this list of long-weekend long-hauls tops out at seven hours (because truthfully, being in the air longer than a full work day is worth cashing in more PTO to recover from). London never fails to capture our hearts what with its royal neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, deep history, and newfound knack for incredible food and drink. After dropping your bags at The Franklin London – Starhotels Collezione, a posh Victorian townhouse boutique in tony South Kensington, hit the ground running: Kensington Palace, the V&A Museum, Royal Albert Hall, and Hyde Park (home to the Serpentine Galleries) are all just minutes away. Afterwards, head to trendy Marylebone and satiate your appetite at The Wigmore (get the three-cheese stovetop toastie and Cornish cod), then walk it off with some retail therapy down Regent Street.
Most visiting the U.K. for the first time stick to London, but Edinburgh, a few hours north in neighboring Scotland, has charm all its own. Picturesque Georgian townhouses, narrow lanes, storied pubs, and even a hilltop castle in the middle of a medieval Old Town—no wonder J.K. Rowling holed up here to pen her magical Harry Potter novels. If your wallet can handle a room at The Balmoral, go for it: the grand dame, filled with kilted staff and gilded antiques, is as gorgeous as it gets. If not, the Venetian mirrors and moody tones of Nira Caledonia are just as atmospheric. Tea, whiskey, pub life, royal life—what the rest of your stay entails is up to you (though we love enjoying a cuppa at the Elephant House after a hike up Arthur's Seat).
You won’t be harping on that seven-hour flight after stepping into the glorious sunshine of Lisbon, one of Europe’s prettiest—not to mention affordable—capitals on the west coast of Portugal. Skip the in-flight meal and leave room for everything you’re going to want to taste here, from mouthwatering pastéis de nata (egg tart pastries) at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (open since 1837) to sardines (a city specialty) at Farol de Santa Luzia and a bifana (a kind of pork sandwich), which you can pick up at most lunch spots (Casa das Bifanas is a local favorite). Design lovers will also find their groove here at places like the LX Factory, an urban complex of boutiques and studios; the MAAT Museum; and storied hotels like Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, where you’ll find 18th-century painted tiles, original stucco, and a rooftop pool overlooking the city.
Paris is always a good idea—so good, we think, that it’s more than worth braving the just-under-seven-hour overnight flight for a weekend jaunt. You can’t get more central than The Castille Paris – Starhotels Collezione—a gorgeous boutique hotel in the 1st arrondissement literally right next to the Chanel flagship and within easy walking distance to sites like the Tuileries Gardens, the Musée d’Orsay, the Palais Royal, and the Louvre. If you’ve been there, done that, might we suggest a few off-the-radar spots like the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont—a 61-acre swath of waterfalls, temples, and Gustave Eiffel–designed bridges just begging for a picnic. Shopping in Paris is also nonnegotiable, and one of our favorite spots right now is home concept emporium Merci, where you can pick up finds from labels like Alexander Wang and Solid & Striped. Afterwards, toast to your purchases with a glass (or two) of wine with charcuterie and cheese at La Cave de Septime.
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